Merrily Davis

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building
Home Making

Honored By

Honored by: Davis, George
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Leaf Tile, Small

Community Building' embodies the gifts and contributions generously provided by Merrily Davis to the University of Arizona community, and to good causes within the Tucson community overall. For example, Merrily carries out exquisite planning and hosting of functions at the Davis' home, aimed toward acknowledging the important contributions made by students, staff, faculty, deans, shared governance leaders, cabinet members, distinguished visitors to the university, as well as spouses, partners, and special friends. It is the careful attention to detail, the hours of preparation, and the warm and sustained welcoming conversation that is to be celebrated. Merrily understands, much more than most, that it is important for hard-working, devoted people, in lives full of stress and expectation, to 'come up for air' once in a while and to have their work be acknowledged and thanked. She understands that ÌÇcoming into the home' has a special significance and warmth, especially in a university world otherwise full of meeting rooms and receptions. And those who know her must agree that she is delightfully direct in all conversations, telling it like it is, laying out views and opinions directlyÌÐ a rare gift in a guarded world.

A corollary of Merrily Davis' generosity is the way she never misses the responsibility and opportunity to help make certain that the contributions of individuals are acknowledged, e.g., upon retirementÌÐ not to mention her delight in giving gifts in the holiday season, and thinking imaginatively about what those gifts should be.

Tears come to Merrily's eyes at just the right moments, and the tears are those of empathy with others when times are hard, or tears of joy when things are wonderfulÌÐ a sensitivity to circumstances that is not always obvious in institutions. People who have experienced Merrily Davis have seen it and have felt it.

All of this would be of little impact or value, if it were felt that community and Community Building were of little importance. But it is of significant importance, and Merrily carries it out.

Born in Washington, D.C. as a younger sister to an older brother, Merrily grew up to parents who valued education and service to society. Merrily's parents both were graduates of Bradley University. Merrily's mom worked for years as a secretary and administrator in a church office, and her father topped off his career in the federal government as Deputy Director of Cape Kennedy during the ÌÇheady' years. Vibrancy of conversation, and staying acutely in touch with politics viewed in a backdrop of an appreciation of history, were hallmarks of the Siepert familyÌÐ and achieved readily in the D.C. area. Educated in the Bethesda public school system, Merrily graduated from high school and went on to The College of Wooster in Ohio, where she majored in history, wrote a senior thesis on John Adams, led the cheer leaders, and graduated with honors. She and George Davis were married in the College of Wooster chapel, which particularly underscored cherishing a college and its meaning in lives.

Merrily is the mother of 3 boys (Michael, Matthew, and Andrew). One day while walking along the sidewalk with her three very young boys, Merrily was greeted by a stranger, who said: 'There is a special place in heaven for mothers of three boys.' Her boys would agree, and they would say that their Mom shaped them as men to an extraordinary and valued degree. Like their Mom they are strong, reliable, courageous, well educated, astute, and fun. Within a month of this writing they each will be coming home to be on hand for Merrily, in her role as the President of the St. Luke's Board of Visitors, as she hosts of the 88th Baile, the oldest annual fundraising gala in Tucson, directed toward supporting very-low-income senior citizens within the assisted care that St. Luke's Home affords. The ÌÇboys' want to be on hand to help celebrate Merrily's hard work of preparation and accomplishment, once again connected to 'Community Building.'